BBB Releases First Annual Report for Fraud Complaints Made to Scam Tracker

 

As I’ve reported before, the Better Business Bureau has a relatively new program to capture complaints about fraud.  Those who file a complaint about a fraud with the BBB can also agree to talk to the news media and to share the complaint with law enforcement.  Scam Tracker complaints can be filed online here or by calling most local Bureaus. The Scam Tracker also has a useful feature that can graphically display all the fraud complaints filed by people in your area.  This really helps demonstrate just how widespread fraud really is.  Click here to see a map of your area or neighborhood and what frauds are being reported.

The BBB has just released a first ever report detailing the fraud complaints it received in 2016.  It includes some great features.  First, it breaks the frauds down into understandable categories and explains very nicely what is included. Second, it attempts to determine what age and sex is most often ripped off by each fraud.  It found that those 18-24 were overall most likely to be fraud victim, and those over 65 were the least likely to report a fraud.  However, the median actual dollar loss was highest for the over 65 group.  Third, they found that women were twice as likely to report a fraud as were men.  (But not that men are exposed to fraud less often).

The BBB calculated that the three most risky frauds for those over 65 were:

  1. Family/friend emergency (grandparent scams);
  2. Sweepstakes/Lottery Prizes (Jamaican lottery frauds); and
  3. Travel/Vacations (bogus ads to rent properties and timeshare resale fraud)

The most interesting innovation in the BBB report, though, is its effort to apply a “risk index” to complaints.  As we all know, of the billions of robocalls that are made only a small fraction of those receiving the calls are actually defrauded.  (Of course enough do get defrauded that the calls make money for the frauds).  In addition, many people file complaints about robocalls or other fraud attempts even when they do not actually lose money (such complaints are still valuable to law enforcement because they can help show patterns).

The BBB has attempted to calculate three factors to determine the riskiest frauds.

  1. Exposure (how likely are you to be exposed to the con?)
  2. Susceptibility (if you are exposed, how likely are you to lose money? And
  3. Monetary Loss (if you lose money, how much is it likely to be?

Using that formula the Report concludes that the ten riskiest frauds are:

  1. Home Improvement Scams (the fraudsters actually appear at your door and ask to do work)
  2. Fake Checks and Money Orders (See the Baker Fraud Report explaining these)
  3. Employment Scams (These often include fake checks)
  4. Online Purchase Scams (goods ordered from a web site that are never delivered, or that again involve a fake check in an overpayment fraud); and
  5. Advance Fee Loan Frauds (you apply for a loan online or by phone, are asked to pay fees for things such as insurance but there is no loan every made).
  6. Investment frauds
  7. Romance Scams (see Baker Fraud Report for more).
  8. Tech Support Frauds (see Report on these here)
  9. Family/Friend Emergencies (Grandparent frauds), and
  10. Sweepstakes/Lottery/Prizes (see Report on Jamaican Lottery Frauds)

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